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Vitamin D3 Release from Traditionally and Additively Manufactured Tricalcium Phosphate Bone Tissue Engineering Scaffolds

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Bone is a randomized, complex porous network which researchers have tried to mimic within bone tissue engineering scaffolds. The objective of this study was to understand the effects of random and controlled scaffold porosity on the release kinetics of vitamin D3 to determine if a designed porous structure was comparable in effectiveness on osteoblast proliferation to the randomized essence of natural bone. In this study, porous tricalcium phosphate (TCP) scaffolds were prepared by fugitive material removal method using naphthalene and 3D printing to model random and controlled porosity, respectively. Scaffold comparison was made based on open pore volume percentage of which naphthalene scaffolds had 45.8 ± 1.5% and 3D printed scaffolds had 48.9 ± 2.5%, Comparative analysis of traditional bioceramic processing to additive manufacturing is limited especially regarding drug release kinetics. Results showed the naphthalene scaffold surface area was only 0.3% that of 3D printed scaffolds due to the lower open pore interconnectivity. This increase in surface area produced higher release of drug and osteoblast proliferation in 3D printed scaffolds comparatively. By 11 days, osteoblast proliferation was enhanced by 64% from scaffolds manufactured using 3D printing compared to traditional processing. Understanding the effects of processing methods of TCP scaffolds on the release kinetics of vitamin D3 and the system effects on cells can aid in low load bearing applications for bone tissue engineering.

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Tricalcium phosphate


Human fetal osteoblast


Polyethylene glycol






Polyvinyl alcohol


X-ray diffractometer


Attenuated Total Reflection-Fourier Transform Infrared


Field Emission Scanning Electron Microscopy




Phosphate buffer solution


Acetate buffer solution


Dulbecco’s Modified Eagle’s Medium


Fetal bovine serum



MTT assay:

3-(4,5-Dimethylthiazol-2-yl)-2,5-diphenyltetrazolium bromide


Vitamin D3




3D printing


30 wt% naphthalene in TCP scaffolds


350 μm designed pore size 3DP TCP scaffolds


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Authors would like to acknowledge financial support from the National Institutes of Health under the Grant Number R01 AR066361. The authors would also like to thank Samuel Robertson for his experimental help with this work. Additionally, thank you to the Franceschi Microscopy & Imaging Center at Washington State University. This content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.


No benefits in any form have been or will be received from a commercial party related directly or indirectly to the subject of this manuscript.

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Correspondence to Susmita Bose.

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Vu, A.A., Bose, S. Vitamin D3 Release from Traditionally and Additively Manufactured Tricalcium Phosphate Bone Tissue Engineering Scaffolds. Ann Biomed Eng 48, 1025–1033 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10439-019-02292-3

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  • Bone tissue engineering
  • Fugitive material removal
  • 3D printing
  • Drug delivery